Wednesday Comics



Wednesday Comics – This is a fantastic experiment in simultaneously breaking new boundaries and going back to the traditional adventure comic tabloid format, and the end result is stunning to look at – an enormous coffee table book of DC comic book stories, done in every storytelling style and artistic format you could imagine, carrying over a dozen stories of major and not-so-major DC icons, each with a story that only covers 12 pages (with appendix stories of one page each). What’s impressive about the collection is that each artist is supremely distinct from the other, ranging from the ultra-modern to the sedately ultra-conservative, from the cutesy to the cerebral. They even have a contribution from Michael Allred! And Neil Gaiman!! Wow!!!

The first story is about the Batman, and it’s a simple detective story, a whodunnit about an old millionaire with his young trophy wife as the main suspect in his murder. The color and the layouts are stunning, even if the story isn’t anything terribly special.

Kamandi is a bit better – great art, cool cliffhangers at the end of every episode (last panel) like the old comic serials, with Kamandi getting in a battle between the tiger nation, the lion nation, the gorilla nation, and the horrible rat raiders! Kamandi briefly gets a hint at other humans that are still alive – his own kind! It’s the series in a capsule, and a nice, tasty 12-page treat, even if the outrageous action is a bit implausible – who cares? Great art too!!

The Superman 12-pager has him fighting a three-eyed alien creature that spooks him when it says to him “you don’t belong, do you?” Great and layout – the artis makes fine use of the expanded real estate, and there’s a cool drawn-out battle, as supes gets whipped.

The Deadman story is fairly nutty, and involves multiple murders. Deadman goes through various dimensions, meets his benefactress, demons and wizards, and he solves an unlikely mystery. Great! The art is gothic Cartoon Network cool. Some pages have cool, trippy mass spreads – cool layouts indeed!!

The Green Lantern pages are totally gorgeous, and are crowded with 1950s chic, as a lot of the action takes place in a seaside diner, with an old cowboy western on TV. In the story, Hal Jordan thinks back to meeting Navy pilot Joe Dillon in some sort of Top Gun-like situation. Then, when Joe turns into a lobster creature on live TV, Hal flies off to the rescue. Funky indeed!

Next up is Metamorpho, the Element Man, who gets the Michael Allred and Neil Gaiman treatment. Our heroes are frolicking at the seaside, where Metamorpho saves spoiled billionaire’s daughter Sapphire Stagg from drowning – her foot is caught by a giant clam after the selfish brat tried to make off with a giant pearl, a very Allreddish episode (I also like how Metamorpho fends off a shark attack by turning into an iron chain. Billionaire tyrant Simon Stagg comes onto the scene, with his neandrathal manservant Java (!!!), and off they go to Antarctica (!!!) to search for treasure – the fabled Star of Atlantis!!!! Early on there are two great full-page splashes that are stunning, although they’re “complimented” by wacky commentary from fan kids (thankfully this only continues for two pages – it’s kind of lame). They come across Element Girl and have all sorts of zany adventures, there’s some hilarity with the French chefs that have come along, a zany Snakes And Ladders game, more cave action, and a goofy “move along the table of elements wordplay” twin page spread that’s pretty amazing to see! And in the end, there’s a clever twist as the villain reveals himself, and the mystery is solved. All-around Allred fun!! The episode ends with hints at more Metamorpho fun!

Meanwhile, the Teen Titans episode is done in a very stylistic, kiddy story that’s a bit silly and hard to comment on. At least the villain is cool – Trident!

Strange Adventures, being tales of Adam Strange, comes out looking very cool and retro, yet also inky and modern, as there’s all sorts of Zeta ray travel between Rann and Earth, where Adam Strange is an old man! Great royal mandrill monkey rebel general grotesquerie!! It’s all very much like Terry and the pirates, with unusual panel shapes. Nice!

Meanwhile, Supergirl has a silly adventure with her super dog Krypto and her super-kitty Streaky going berserk. The art is gorgeous, but a bit too cutesy. Besides a strange interaction with a bratty Aquaman, there’s nothing special here.

The Metal Men (and woman) tale is a nice one, because it’s just the way I remember it (I had one issue when I was a kid), and the art is big and brash. Nothing revolutionary or bold here, but certainly enough traditional stuff to keep fans happy.

Totally opposite of this is Wonder Woman‘s highly experimental avant grade entry, drawn as it is in fine detail and very small panels that flow in strange ways; lots of text, contextualized colors, and the story’s not too bad either – Wonder Woman has a crazy dream every night, the dreams link up, and somehow it becomes a real adventure: Wonder Woman versus Dr Poison and a few other baddies. And when the artist gets sick of drawing too many micro-panels… he tries big giant ones!! Hard to follow, but worth it for those who do. Look at the pictures too, if you can!!

Joe Kubert’s Sgt Rock and Easy Co is an ultra traditional comic, that simply blows up the standard 3×3 panel concept, passing up any of the advantages of this large format. Too bad, actually… missed opportunity to spread those wings, Joe. Brutal stuff, but also some humor – at one point Easy Co hits the ground when they see a grenade being lobbed at them, except that it turns out to just be a potato (they’re hungry).

The Flash/Iris West story is amazing – it’s supremely well-drawn, it’s sufficiently experimental, it’s got Gorilla Grodd, and it is wildly Liechtenstein-ish in parts (with the dotted colorings – nice). Also, interesting how General Grodd briefly gets his own part of the title, alongside Flash’s part and Iris West’s part. The ninth page is wildly experimental, integrating classic era comics (Peanuts, Blondie, Flash Gordon), as is the 11th page, with a crazy vortex drawing/layout concept. Amazing.

Walter Simonson’s telling of a Catwoman-meets-The-Demon adventure has the potential of good fun, but doesn’t really follow through (more Morgan le Fay… yawn). Given its subject of old England, the castle ruins, and the presence of gothic heroes, makes for a very Hellboy-ish theme, and Simonson sometimes draws a la Mignola (or did Mignola originally ape Simonson? I can’t remember…).

The final full tale is one of Hawkman. It’s drawn by wunderkind Kyle Baker, although I’m not really enamored with his style here. Hawkman fights alien skyjackers disguised as fundamentalist terrorists (he also fights a T Rex – wow, dinosaurs!!); unfortunately, it’s pretty silly, as are the one-page Plastic Man and The Creeper stories, although at least the former is pretty funny (the latter tries to get all poetic, man…).

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